The Singular Last Day



Today is our last day in this office building. We have been packing and preparing to move to our new office premise, about 15 minutes away - in Bandar Utama - a newly constructed office building situated next to OneWorld Hotel and OneUtama Shopping Complex. It is really like a mini city with whatever you need just a walk away. The greatest draw for me most probably would be the 2 floors of MPH bookstore that has quite a good section on Christian Theology for a regular bookstore. Ah well, I am still on a fast ...

I have not moved office before, not in this scale at least. I feel the excitement, the tension, a lot of expectation in most of us. I also can see the various different ways people reacted and behaved. While some only packed today, I packed as early as 3 weeks ago and settled back into my work. I suppose I like to be ready. I planned what I had needed and have them packed in my everyday bag and those that can wait I got them into the boxes.

Talking about "the last day", it obviously reminded me about The Last Day that Jesus talked about. I am now wondering why is it being called "the last" and why is it a singular "day"? If you think about it, this is my last day here in the "old" office and I will be there on the first day on Monday, in the new office. Is The Last Day our last day here on this earth before we go to the new heaven and new earth?

Doing a search in BibleWorks, te eschate hemera, the last day, is only found in the Gospel of John (6:39, 40, 44, 54, 11:24, 12:48). It refers to raising up and resurrection of the dead. I checked my Pillar, NICNT and WBC commentaries, the ATLA Serials, nothing much is available on the mention of "the last day". But I am sure it has ties to "the last days", "the day of the Lord", "that day", eschatology - which I need to dig into soon.

pearlie

Logos: inside out and outside in

TEE
I think I have finally worked something out for my paper on Logos.

The assignment question reads as follows: Discuss the background and meaning of Logos in the prologue of the Gospel of John and discuss how the Logos contributes to John’s Christology.

Since November last year, I have been digging up whatever I can find on the background and meaning of Logos, i.e. from the Jewish roots (the OT, the Targumim of the Rabbinic Literature, Qumran Literature, etc.), Hellenistic influence (Heraclitus and the Stoics) and a mesh between the two of Philo. From these I’d then work out how each would probably have contributed to John’s Christology.

But I was not contented with this approach, which is why I have been turning it inside out and outside in for the past 5 months, and it is getting to me.

This morning however, a little light sparked off somewhere in the confines of my brain – why hadn’t I thought of it earlier? Can I approach it from John being the writer within his time and society, world of thought and way of life? Can I work out from - how he understood the world to be, to whom he was writing to, and the way the audience understood their world - to how John would have brought across the good news of Christ from his world into theirs?

It may sound trivial but I can now sense a sigh of relief that I can be satisfied and get on with my writing ... (I have just spent the last freaking hours looking for my tax forms but the cats must have carried it away - as such I do not have the pin access number to do it via e-filing - and all this coming from a seriously last minute person. Tomorrow is the the last day to file in our tax returns.)

I look forward to just sit down and hope to complete the assignment by tomorrow. I only hope I have enough material already, though I have an inkling I may have to pad up on the historical data of John’s time.

All of this reminded me of what I once read in my personality profile – “you often read assignments carefully and then work your creativity into the given framework of the assignment. Thus, it may appear that you did not pay careful attention to the details of the assignment in your reinterpretation. It is best if you have teachers who appreciate your unique approach and who do not hold you to the letter of the law.”

pearlie

Pertinent Questions

Friday will come with a blink of an eye. I had better get started on preparing for bible study on the Gospel of John. I began reading Carson and Moo’s An Introduction to the New Testament section on John. I started asking questions and was surprised to discover that I had asked very basic but pertinent ones I do not think I had considered before.

Why is it important to know about the structure, author and date of writing of books in the Bible?
The answers I have are very simple yet fundamental. Can it be more than being able to know its emphasis through the structure, its authenticity through its author and its reliability through its date of writing?

pearlie

Biblical Study vs. Theology


I know I have stated somehow or rather sometime ago somewhere in this blog that I am more inclined to Biblical Studies rather than Theology. Biblical Studies somehow seem more tangible compared to Theology. Theology to me, feels like clouds up the sky that I am just not able to grasp, or solidify into more concrete and orderly thoughts.

John Assignments
What happened today was case in point. By now, you would have already heard me droning on and on about my current struggle with my Christological paper on Logos. As I got myself seated at my desk late last night, with a mind set to do some work on my assignments, I panicked a little when I found out that I have almost nothing penned down for my exegesis paper. I collected my thoughts, calmed myself down, and reassured myself that I have been working on the passage mentally for quite awhile now. With that I began writing. I did about 4 hours of work last night, and another 5 this afternoon after church. With just 9 hours, I am about 98% done.

For the paper on Logos on the other hand, I could not begin to count how many hours of writing and rewriting have I been doing, and I am only 50% or less done. At this juncture, everytime I think about it, I do not have the mood to get on it and complete it. I just do not see or feel it going anywhere. But complete it I must, by end of this month. Get on it! God help me.

Psalm Assignments
After John, I have about 2 months to work on my two assignments on The Psalm. I have somewhat finalised my decision on these two: (1) an exegesis on Psalm 19 and (2) the shape and structure of the entire Psalter. Reb has already warned that the question on the structure of The Psalm is a toughie and only the daring ones will attempt it. I do not think I am daring. I just have this predilection for biblical structure. Or am I just stupid, idealistic and naïve? Stupid maybe not, but idealistic and naïve, highly likely.

Justification Assignments
I have attended the module on Justification in the Pauline Corpus recently, which resulted in a temptation to convert it from credit to audit. I was quite blown away in class and had never felt so lost in a class (not since I finished tertiary education hundreds of years ago). There is thankfully (or not), only one assignment to be completed. I have not decided which I will be attempting, if I do decide to attempt it.

Bible Study on John
On top of all those assignments and assignments, our Friday bible study group in church has already completed the Masterlife series last week. The small team on learning that I am working on my John assignments, wanted me to lead in a study on the Gospel of John. I have agreed and now I have only five days to work out an introduction session for this Friday. I am excited but it will not be easy. I thank God though for the opportunity to teach His word. God help me.

pearlie
Photo © 2008 Kevin Tuck

My first robot


I bought my first robot that cleans the house. I am now more hopeful to get my next robot that cooks and irons. Yeah!

pearlie

The Chronicles of a Maddening Day

The Plan that Went Haywire
I had my day planned out - but it sort of went haywire. It did not go the way I wanted it to go. I took unplanned routes and found myself doing what I should not be doing.

It was maddening.


The Son that Went Daydreaming
There is no doubt that Calvin does prove himself to be quite smart at times - but sometimes too much for his own good. I think he gets so bored in school, he daydreamed the days away. I had to give him another lecture and how he now have to pay for the time spent daydreaming in class. He now needs to get down to study in depth the lessons he daydreamed away.

It was maddening.


The Day that Went Wrongly
Mages and I had a client meeting today and it went well. But towards the end, he kept receiving calls and messages on his mobile. Being a gentleman about it, he thought he'd handle them later as we were in a meeting. Attended to them after the meeting he did, but it was the worst of the worst news - his elder brother was involved in an accident and it was fatal.

It was maddening.

pearlie

The Chronicles of a Day in Siesta

I foresee this is going to be a long one, and therefore it will be a challenge to have it written it a way that it will not be too difficult to read through right to the end.


The Need
I needed a day off, and it has to be a purely “off” day with no work, no reports, no calls, no anything work related. The team is so piled up with work we have been working through our noses. It is high time I took a real day off.

To recharge, regroup, recuperate.


The Start
My leave application was approved amidst the heavy load we are in and I am thankful for it. The day began in rote: I drove Calvin to school. I drove myself to my morning and breakfast spot. I ordered my usual long black, coffee shop version. I got my usual bowl of noodles. I got ready my notebook computer.

I began to plan my day.


The Options
I have four options:
1. Take a 2 to 3-hour drive to Fraser’s Hill. Sit in a café. Have coffee and scones. Complete my Logos assignment.
2. Take an hour drive to STM in Seremban. Attend Chapel service. Have a catch-up time with Lee Yng.
3. Go for a 4-hour spa treatment.
4. Stay at home and do the usual.

Now, what shall it be?


The Elimination
Option 4 is definitely out of the picture! I cannot be vegetating at home. Option 1 is certainly tempting. It was on top of the list, except for one problem. I was working late into the night last night to complete all I had to do in order to have a truly free Thursday. As a result, I woke up this morning with a headache. What’s worse, it felt like an impending migraine.

Option 1 will have to be for another time.


The Combination
I decided to combine Option 2 and 3 together. I will head off to Seremban at 9am, in time for STM's Chapel service at 11am. Head home at 3pm for a 4.30pm appointment at the spa.

It is a done deal.


The Highway
The morning was drizzling when I started. I used the KL-Seremban Highway. SH said that the trunk road will be congested will trucks and I will be better-off using the highway. However, I soon got quite bored. I decided I needed some adventure. At the Nilai interchange, I started on a should-I-or-should-I-not monologue argument.

It went why-not and I turned off.


The Adventure
The moment I got off the highway, I got energized. It was like getting into something of the unknown - I did not know where I was heading and where I will end up in. I will have to depend on my always dependable woman’s sixth sense. What happened? I drove on and on, made turns based on instinct – road signs are not very dependable, you see. The road swerved left and right, the vehicles in front became obstacles. Oh, I missed a turn. No choice - I had to carry on - the road is too narrow to make a three-point-turn back. Thankfully, I finally reached a broad intersection and did a U-turn. I actually got lost for quite awhile – I got into Seremban town and was reminded that it is a confusing town. I missed numerous turns due to useless and befuddling signboards. Soon enough I had to do another U-turn - since milestones indicated that I am heading back to Kuala Lumpur. I had to get back into the KL-Seremban Highway, and take the dependable Senawang interchange.

That was fun!


The Calls
I got back into the highway and took the Senawang interchange, but not without taking several calls from the office. I knew it would happen and there is nothing I can do to avoid it.

Work will never leave you alone.


The Service
I got to STM, parked my car at the far end of the compound. The place was fully parked with cars – there was a TEE class going on I was told. Reb was teaching Introduction to the Old Testament, the first TEE module I took way back in 2003. I got into the chapel with Lee Yng, who paid a visit to the doctor and was also late. Reb had already started on the reflection of the day. Kar Yong was seated at the back and we joined him.

Surrounded I was, with scholars and students.


The Reflection
Reb was giving a reflection on Psalm 62. I will have to say it sounded all too familiar since I have just attended his session on Interpreting the Old Testament not too long ago. I took a close look at Psalm 62.

Such a well-written song.


The Psalm


God is indeed a refuge for us.


The Lunch
After chapel, Lee Yng, Kar Yong, Lee Yng’s 2 friends from SUFES Melaka and I had lunch together. My headache that was lingering by now had gotten worse.

More pills.


The Dorm
We got back to STM after lunch. Lee Yng and I thought we could go out for a cup of coffee and a round of tête-à-tête, but first we headed off to her dorm room to get her medication. Yes, more pills. However, the moment I sat down on her bed, I have a feeling I will be glued there for quite awhile.

We never got to the coffee.


The Chat
Lee Yng made me coffee, we settled in and chatted to our heart’s content. We talked about church, ministry, mission, books, church, church, and church.

We depressed ourselves with church.


The Mission
You know how it is when you talked about something you had been thinking about with someone you trusted, things gets clearer and your thoughts get confirmed? I was sharing with Lee Yng my recent experience of the pounding word from the Lord. Throughout 2007, I kept getting the mission-sermon. And unlike other times, I took these messages to heart. Is God trying to tell me something? But I am not a “mission person”! Even though evangelism is one of my responsibilities, I know it is not my specific calling. God then slowly revealed it to me – I do have a mission calling, whichever way it will take I have yet to find out, but I will have the second generation and beyond Christians to look into.

This one is one hard one to crack.


The Getaway
Soon, I realized I had to peel myself away from Lee Yng comfortable abode to get back on the road and head home. I have already missed the first appointment I made with the spa: I have decided to shorten the spa experience from 4 to 2 hours.

The fellowship was more important.


The Spa
A full body massage is one of the most luxurious things in this world, and I got 2 hours of it. Kneaded, pressed, squeezed, pulled and rubbed.

Mmm ... what more can I say?


The Mind
The spa I went to was a delightful place. Dim and quiet. Serene and still. It was however, too still for my mind's comfort. It was so discomforting, that in the midst of the kneading, my mind started to work. Oh no, it is not going to happen! I am not going to end a restful day working.

I’ve got to do something.


The Exposition
I rummaged for my phone, plugged on the headphones and started on D.A. Carson’s session on John 3, “Jesus, the Gift of God.” It went on for an hour and 20 minutes. It was an excellent exposition. At several junctures however, he again repeated his usage of examples and illustrations. I have noted that he had done it before here he is doing it again. Is it a good thing to do? But I listened on, not wanting to think about anything other than the goodness of God.

My body got kneaded, my mind got fed and my spirit got filled, I rested well.


The End
Alas, the end of an excellent day. It was a full day - restful and uplifting, refreshing and wonderful.
5 Your lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens,
Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
Your judgments are like a great deep.
O LORD, You preserve man and beast.
7 How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
8 They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house;
And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.
9 For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.
10 O continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You,
And Your righteousness to the upright in heart.
~ Psalm 36:5-10

Thank you, O Lord, my King and my God. Amen.

pearlie

A Tale of Two Brains
David Cook and Music of the Night

My husband sent me this. Take a view and tell me if you'd agree with Mark Gungor. SH thought he got it absolutely right on the dot.

"We'll start discussing about men's brains and women's brains and how they are very different from each other ..."



My favourite idol singing one of my favourite Broadway songs, and so I must have it lodged here.



pearlie

I Cannot Give the Reasons


I cannot give the reasons,
I only sing the tunes:
the sadness of the seasons
the madness of the moons.


I cannot give the reason,
I am sick and feeling blue:
the day has pulled a fast one
the night is toodle-oo.

I cannot give the reason,
I am bored up to the core:
the strings of life have come undone
the lines of thoughts down to the floor.

I cannot give the reason,
I cannot even think:
the nose is fast a-runnin’
the eyes a 40-wink.

I need not give the reasons,
I give you not the nonse-sense:
I am not the one that is so dense
But hey, where did it go, my horsey-sense?

Poem inspired by Mervyn Peake
First verse by Mervyn Peake
All rights reserved © 2008 Pearlie Ng
Photo © 2008 Sergio Catala

The Word became flesh

I have been trying really hard to complete one of my two assignments on John - I have willed myself unsuccessfully to complete the one on Logos 2 weeks ago, but I am still at it. What has happened however, was a reminder that I have yet to gain some spiritual lessons from it - which was why the drive home from work today turned out a contemplative one.

I had been listening to Dick Lucas's session on Psalm 23 - I was still halfway from home when the session ended and so I switched off the player and started talking to God.

It is a long story how I started what I started but I began deliberating why Jesus is the only way compared to other ways, to the other religions. Soon, my thoughts came to one thing I regard quite interesting:

John 1:14, "the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us", began to take on new meaning.

While the words from the God or gods of the other religions were given or written down or passed down for the obedience of their believers, our God's Word instead came closer. Much more than closer, the Word became like us in flesh and gave us His truth directly. The Word personally dwelt in our midst and showed us His glory in person.

As such, we have not only read the Word of God, eyewitnesses have seen him, and this Word has explained God in the flesh to us.

Now, isn't that amazing? Which other god has ever done that and which other god can even do that?

pearlie

I would fly away and be at rest

Psalm 55:6-7
6 I said, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
7 "Behold, I would wander far away,
I would lodge in the wilderness.

Suddenly, I feel very tired. I am quite exhausted. I have now this sudden urge to just go somewhere and be alone and be quiet; with no deadlines, no reports, nothing to prepare, nothing to keep track. And being a mountain person, I feel like a nice drive up to the hills but can I manage a drive up to the winding roads alone and be back on the same day?

I have not tried this before, and I really feel like doing it.

pearlie

Writing Well


Terry Pratchett, The Bromeliad: Truckers, Diggers, Wings, (UK: Corgi, 2008)

My husband bought a new Terry Pratchett book for Calvin - The Bromeliad. He had just finished The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents and so we thought it would be good to get him another (though we did forget that he has another he has not started on, The Wee Free Men).

The book looked like such a good read that I dug in first. Pratchett is an excellent writer - I so wish I can write like him. Just listen to these words. Read it aloud, listen to it:

The sky rained dismal. It rained humdrum. It rained the kind of rain that is so much wetter than normal rain, the kind of rain that comes down in big drops and splats, the kind of rain that is merely an upright seas with slots in it.
Yes, my husband bought a book for our son. Now, isn't that nice?

pearlie

John Newton (1725-1807)

mp3

I am back to feasting on mp3 sermons while I commute daily to work and back. I have perfectly timed the chunks into 3 sections to fit my requirements and as such I get to complete a sermon a day. I have finished D.A. Carson's expository sessions on Jeremiah today and have prepped up Dick Lucas's sessions on Psalms for the next few days. I have not heard or read him before, and so I'll have to see how good he is.

From Carson's session on Jeremiah today, he brought up John Newton and one of his sayings. I checked him out and realised he is the very John Newton who wrote the "Amazing Grace". Carson's quoted this:

I am not what I ought to be.
I am not what I want to be.
I am not what I hope to be.
But still,
I am not what I used to be.
And by the grace of God,
I am what I am.
What beautiful words, and smack right on the point. I did a search and found more - he certainly has a way with words and his thoughts are simply awe-inspiring.

Here's one that is surely close to my heart considering what I have been thinking about lately:

If ever I reach heaven I expect to find three wonders there: first, to meet some I had not thought to see there; second, to miss some I had expected to see there; and third - the greatest wonder of all - to find myself there.
I agree wholeheartedly with him on this one, though I would still talk about Arminians and Calvinists only to try to find a bridge between the two, as hard as I may:

I endeavour to keep all Shibboleths, and forms and terms of distinction out of sight, as we keep knives and razors out of the way of children; and if my hearers had not some other means of information, I think they would not know from me that there are such creatures as Arminians and Calvinists in the world. But we [would] talk a good deal about Christ.
    pearlie
    Picture from NNDB

    Is your heart set on heaven?

    I have been thinking about heaven lately, with D.A. Carson on Revelations and the article on what Tom Wright think heaven is.

    I have some thoughts too. I have read about the new heaven and new earth, that there will be no tears, pain, or sorrow. There will be no sin, lies, suffering, hunger, hatred, envy, cheating, and the list goes on. I was wondering how will that play out in the new heaven and new earth.

    Will we suddenly take on a more robotic-like demeanour and just be unable, try as hard as we might, to do the bad things that we are so accustomed to?

    Does it mean we will not know, remember or understand hatred or pride or lies or revenge any longer?

    Revelation 21:1-4
    1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

    As I thought about it, I began to think otherwise.

    We should still know what it means to lie, to be revengeful, to hate, to be proud and to greed. Why shouldn't we? These things are so much a part of our lives - we try to keep away from them, we pray against them and we ask for forgiveness when we have succumbed to them.

    In the new heaven and new earth, we should still recognise these things. But we will have no room or time for them. The new age would have dawned and God Himself will be among us. All will be in perfection in His presence. Even though we are free to do what we want, we will not have the need to hate or lie, or to yell or cry. The very depth of our needs and in the innermost part of our desires, God Himself has fulfilled us. Being perfectly fulfilled by a perfect Being, what more do we have in need?

    Doesn't this remind us of the Davidic psalm?

    Psalm 23:1-3
    1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.
    And for this very reason, heaven is not a place for unrepentant sinners.

    But if you think about it, I wonder if God will "be in" hell as well, where his judgement resides, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    We have heard all too often the non-believers who will in jest say they will be just as happy in hell. They will be free to do whatever they want as compared to the goody-two-shoes Christians and their lovey-dovey stuff. How then do we not reconcile the picture of hell as seen in the Gospel of Matthew with the very fact of God's presence - that within his holiness and goodness, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. I do not think it will be out of regretful feelings but by being in the purity and perfection of God's presence, they will be so out of place that they will be weeping and gnashing their teeth.

    In the same way, as I have mentioned before, on this side for us, how we would be at rest in the new heaven and new earth will depend on how we build up our treasures of love, wisdom and knowledge of God. These will be the treasures we store for ourselves in heaven, "where either moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matt 6:19-20).

    Is your heart in heaven?

    Colossians 2:1-3
    1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

    pearlie

    The Idol, Season 7, Top 7


    The American Idol Season 7 is now down to the Top 7. Many were shocked by the ousting of Michael Johns. Not I. If you think about it, by now almost all of them has gained themselves a unique identity. Each of them are different. Looking back at Idol history, one can actually move up quite a lot without much talent but just by different.

    Here's my take on them on their identity:

    David Archuleta is The Voice.
    Carly Smithson is The Gothic.
    Syesha Mercado is The Diva (Wannabe).
    Brooke White is The Girl Next Door.
    Kristy Lee Cook is The All-American Girl.
    Jason Castro is The Dreads.
    David Cook is simply The David Cook.

    What is Michael Johns? I can only think of one thing about him, The Australian. I have nothing against Australians, but I don't think that scores many points with American Idol.

    Foxes on Idols is my favourite catch-up-on-Idol site and you might find this a good read if you are an Idol fan: What ‘American Idol 7’ Contestants Need to Know.

    pearlie
    Picture from Baltimoresun.com

    Moving Mount Struggle


    Being the one to get the slides ready for worship today, I took notice that the Scripture passage was taken from Matthew 21:18-22. I was looking forward to the sermon to see how the speaker would interpret and draw lessons from this difficult passage.

    Matthew 21:18-22 (NASB)
    18 Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. 19 Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, "No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you." And at once the fig tree withered. 20 Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked, "How did the fig tree wither all at once?" 21 And Jesus answered and said to them, "Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will happen. 22 "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."

    Curse the Fig Tree?
    Joshua Snyder from YWAM was the speaker and I found his sermon very good. He pointed out several things I had not thought about. When I came across this earlier in the Gospel of Mark, the question that always plagued me is: why did Jesus curse the fig tree for not bearing fruit when it is not even the season for figs? What right did he had? It had been bugging me since then but soon I realised it was a wrong question to ask - what right did Jesus have? Every right! He is the very Creative Word that made the world and the universe in the beginning of time. He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). And when he wants to curse a fig tree because it did not serve its purpose, he curses the fig tree. In the same way, he will judge us if we are found not serving his purpose and judge he will. Therefore, while his grace, which is all-sufficient, is available to us, we had better embrace that grace of God and not take him for granted before it is too late.

    Look Beyond the Fig Trees and See the Mountains
    In application, Joshua takes the fig trees as the obtacles in our lives that needs to be removed. They are the smaller things that we need to acknowledge and banish - the uncontrolled anger, the green eye of jealousy, the desires of the body that does not see satisfaction, etc. Only then can our vision be enlarged to look at the mountains that need moving - be it the cancer that is destroying someone we know, or the great need that a brother in our church has, or the corruption that is happening where we are, and the list goes on. We need to see beyond the fig trees in our lives. I realise that most of the time, we can be so entangled in our fig trees that we are blinded to the mountains. And when the mountain "suddenly" become so big, it scares us and drives us to the corner in denial. We prefer to be short-sighted and only tackle our fig trees. Life in Christ is more than that - more than just taking care of our small "huge" concerns and problems.

    Ask Anything in My Name
    We need to see the mountains, believe that it can be moved, pray that it will be moved, and speak of our faith, however mustard-seed-small it is, that the mountains can and will be moved. And to Matt 21:22, "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive," the only boundary of prayer is the character, purpose and will of God.

    John 16:23-24
    23 In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. 24 "Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.

    Think that unbelievable because it just too vast and free-for-all? Oh, there is one boundary: the name of Christ and the name of Christ is his character, his will, his purpose. Ask anything that is held by his name, it will be given to you.

    And as an addendum, during testimony one of us declared the majesty of the name of God that is proclaimed and heard by millions the world over. Darlene Zschech's "Shout to the Lord" performed during Idols Give Back and was reprised the next day, and this time they sang the name of Jesus.



    pearlie
    Photo © 2007 Martin Muránsky

    Opening Prayer

    I will be worship leading tomorrow and while preparing the slides, I need to include an Opening Prayer. I went searching for one online. I could not find any - I must be looking at the wrong places and so I came up with my own.

    Opening Prayer
    We remember, like a familiar fragrance,
    Our hearts in gladness we adore;
    The beauty of Your awesome presence,
    Humbly we come to You once more.

    Almighty God, O Eternal God,
    You are our Strength and our Redeemer;
    You open rivers on the bare of heights,
    And the dry land fountains of water.

    So we come, one body to worship,
    Our God, the Heavenly Father;
    The Son who lives, the Holy Spirit,
    One God we praise, now and forever.
    Amen.

    All rights reserved © 2008 Pearlie Ng

    My paper on Logos

    I am back onto working on my John assignments and plan to complete the one on Logos before the week is over. I only hope I am not being too wishful.

    pearlie

    Somewhere Over the Rainbow
    My Jesus, My Shepherd

    I have been following, though not very closely because time don't permit me to, the current American Idol competition. SH told me about Jason Castro's ukelele-version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and I went "Oh, dear". When I watched it over Youtube.com and saw him with the ukelele, I went "Oh, no". But as he sang on, I was won over. He was fantastic.



    Here is the late Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's original version of the arrangement that Jason used, which I fell in love with. There is such a gentleness in his voice.



    This year's Idol Gives Back is being carried out separately from the competition proper, due to possible conflict and when I found out that they did Darlene Zschech's "Shout to the Lord" to close the show, I had to check it out in Youtube.com. It was well done, though they did substitute the opening, "My Jesus, My Saviour" with "My Shepherd, My Saviour".



    pearlie

    Why do I blog?

    Alex blogged about "Six Reasons Why Pastors Should Blog". As I was reading it, I kept nodding my head and I keep telling myself, "Yes, yes, yes ..."

    The article by Abraham Piper of Desiring God.org has succinctly put down reasons why I blog as well. I have encountered several individuals who at the moment of finding out that someone they know keeps a blog and updates it regularly, they'd throw their head and remark, "Don't they have anything else better to do?"

    Thanks to Piper, here is why Pearlie blogs. So, listen up:

    1. I recognise the value writing has for thinking. When I write, I delve into new ideas and new insights and sometimes discover things I would not have realised had I not write. When I write, I strive to think well.

    2. Blogging has helped me in my discipline. I always tell others that the longest I have ever kept a journal was one week, or was it two? I am now into my second year of blogging and I am still disciplined enough to keep to a post a day: on things, thoughts or lessons that mark the day.

    3. I had to quote Piper on this one: "For good or ill, most committed bloggers live with the constant question in their mind: Is this bloggable? This could become a neurosis, but I’ll put a positive spin on it: It nurtures a habit of looking for insight and wisdom and value in every situation, no matter how mundane. If you live life looking for what is worthwhile in every little thing, you will see more of what God has to teach you. And the more he teaches you, the more you can teach others. As you begin to be inspired and to collect ideas, you will find that the new things you’ve seen and learned enrich far more of your life than just your blog."

    4. Blogging has connected me to many people, most of whom I think about at least once a day! They have enriched my thoughts, and my life, and I hope I have done the same to them. God bless you all!

    And so, to all my blogger friends, blog away!

    pearlie

    Book Review: Taming the Tiger
    and How about My Testimony


    Tony Anthony (with Angela Little), Taming the Tiger, 2007

    It feels good to finish another book, though it was not a hard read at all. I did it in two sittings. I could have done it in one if not for the fact that I started too late into the night at the first and had to force myself to turn in because I was exhausted by the time I come to the second chapter. The book has a quick pace about it and it nudges you on to get onto reading what next. I only had one problem with it. I find gaps in certain junctures. I find the writer jumping too often in and out of detailed events and summations within chapters.

    I will not call this a problem, but the other thing I had with the book is that it is almost unbelievable – I have some problems believing the authenticity of the book. Maybe I have read one too many online review of the book and this has thus shaded my perception of it. I will find time to run some information check to the events and places mentioned in the book. Sound reminiscent of what we do with the bible, doesn’t it?

    But all in all, it is a good book. I remember tearing up twice: once when he found Jesus while in prison and another when he brought one of his cellmates to Christ. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that he talked about Christians who were “there from the beginning”, that is, those who were be born in the faith. He is telling my story there – the way I struggled to be assured of my salvation, the way I felt being left out of an emotional and awesome experience of conversion.

    I remember coming to deal with myself in a bookstore – yes, it had to be in a bookstore! I was with Noel, a very dear brother in the Lord, in SUFES, and I was talking about my faith journey and as I went along, God confirmed it in my heart that I do not need to have the moment of conversion, so to speak. I do not need to have said the Sinner’s Prayer. Oh, how many times have I uttered it just to be sure, and every time in expectation of that unforthcoming conversion experience. God had confirmed it in my heart that I have gradually grown in my belief, and it is no less a conversion, albeit gradually.

    I may not have had a once-in-a-lifetime spectacular and esoteric experience of a conversion, but I am exceptionally blessed to have a lifelong journey and experience of being in his presence, being in the embrace of the Almighty. Yes, there were ups and downs, there were times when I shunned him, but I knew ultimately I could not do without him. I returned to his embrace. Oh dear, I am tearing up now. I am so thankful and grateful for what the Lord has done and I praise and glorify him. I pray I will be faithful to him all the days of my life, and beyond.

    So, whether or not it is a blessing or curse depends on our spiritual journey. If you were born into the faith, I pray that you have found or will come to find the journey a blessing.

    pearlie

    Four Epiphanies

    Pastor Chris was so animated and excited with his sermon today and with his excitement and message, he has brought up in me four points of epiphanies.

    Firstly, he told us about this video. It opened my eyes to see what was happening in other parts of the world and that God can use just anybody for his purposes. It reminds me of this: “to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away” (Luke 19:26, NLT). If little kids can be used by God so marvelously, what excuses do we have?

    Secondly, it was confirmed in my heart what I think I am to do as far as evangelism is concerned. I will post this at length when I have further thought it through.

    Thirdly, Pastor reminded us that there is a reason why we are where we are. The reason why we are in this church is obviously not our doing. Yes, I knew about the church being near our home. Yes, I suggested to SH one fine day to go visit. Yes, we made the decision to stay on with the church. And yes, we made the decision to transfer our membership – which we have done during the recent Easter service. But it was God who put us here. I felt that God has picked us up from where we were not used to a place where he can use us, and be a blessing to others.

    Fourthly, I think I can finally confirm that my question on prayer is quite settled. Needless to say, I have been struggling on the subject for too long a time, not so much on “how and when to pray?”, but “why pray?” – since God is all-sovereign and whatever we ask, we ultimately seek his will be done anyway. This was again brought up during bible study on Friday and the group were so gung-ho in wanting to pray for me – that I find answers and start praying fervently. It is not that I do not pray, I do but I can do better. The answer came by unexpectedly yesterday. I was googling for something and chance upon Vitali’s blog. After reading what I googled for, I scrolled down and viola! There before me was a post entitled “Why pray?” God does have a sense of humour, doesn't he?. Vitali said what I needed to hear:
    "Why pray if God knows what you will ask him before you actually do? Moreover, God will only grant your request if it is according to his will, but if it is according to his will, he will do it anyway even if you don’t ask him".

    What I learned when preparing for the study is that this question keeps been asked again and again and again. I have heard it been answered by people whose teaching I really respect, e.g. Tim Keller, Don Carson, etc. So what's the answer?

    There is none.

    There is no answer. Any explanation you will try to give will not make sense in one way or another. The only way to understand it is that while our prayer has appearance of us asking God for something and trying (in a way) to change his mind, the only thing that changes in prayer is us.

    What did this discovery did to me personally? After a few days of struggle, somehow, I feel liberated. I have struggled with prayer for a long time, but now that I know there is no good explanation for why we should pray, I feel free to pray simply out of obedience to God's Word. And, somehow, I feel humbled by the fact that not everything can be understood by our limited minds. Well, I knew that already, but this time this understanding (that I can't understand everything and must rely more on God) came really home to me.
    There is no answer. It is indeed liberating for me. While God is sovereign, we can still change his mind, only and only if he remains sovereign. Sounds impossible? This is our God we are talking about here.

    pearlie

    Post Modernism and the Emergent Church



    "When the tide is low, every shrimp has its own puddle."
    - Vance Havner

    Here R.C. Sproul, Al Mohler, and Ravi Zacharias discuss post-modernism, modernism, liberalism, and the emergent church.

    Here's a glimpse into the emergent church:

    HT: Vitali

    And here's Doug Pagitt for you:


    pearlie

    Apocalyptically Speaking

    Something priceless and amusing inadvertently happened to me yesterday. Something that inspired me to write this true-to-life apocalyptic piece:

    There was a man with a head and an arm and they walked towards a mammoth monstrosity of an edifice that in recent time and a time has emerged offensive and avoided by most. The head and the arm had no eyes, and they wandered aimlessly in the labyrinth, not knowing what to do and where to go. There emerging from a burrow a minion, who gave the eyes that gave the way. The head and the arm was soon found in a huge cavity, and there they waited, and waited, and waited. They waited for the little puppet. More eyes emerged on the arm and it sees that the man and the arm are in the Fourth Floor of the monstrosity of an edifice. It wondered about the beelzebub, whose name comes up to 11 and 10. The wait was a time and a half, the little puppet spoke for a half. The head bemoans the unfair exchange, and called it a waste of time but for one fair thing, the head and arm have seen the fourth.
    Don't bother if you don't understand a single thing you read here! It is not important, I just had good fun writing it. In a sense, maybe I had a wee bit of a taste of John's experience when he wrote Revelations. Forget my so-called apocalypse writing, go study John's instead.

    pearlie

    B-O-O-K-S!

    I am quite amused that my 6-months-book-fast is drawing some attention here. Kar Yong and Melissa both do not believe that I can do it. One is offering me a dinner and the other a book gift just to get me going. And I know it is only the 3rd of April, only 3 days into the fast, and a whopping 180 more days to go. But do it I must. I seriously have overspent on books within a mere 3 months into the year. And that is not including the amount I spent on a full set of WBC in CD-Rom end of last year.

    It is a good time to stop, for awhile. But Kar Yong is playing the tempter, as always. So I am dedicating this song to him, sung in the tune of "Old MacDonald had a Farm":

    All these books
    They're very good
    B-O-O-K-S!
    Go get some
    Don't miss the fun
    B-O-O-K-S!
    There's a sale, sale here
    And a sale, sale there
    Sale here, discount there
    Book deals everywhere ...
    (ad-lib) Yeah - yeah - yeah!
    All these books
    They're very good
    B-O-O-K-S!
    Of course I must say that he is doing an absolutely fabulous job, no doubt about it, in getting the word out about book deals, which many of us are so grateful about. Just that sometimes, I just wish I didn't know ... but don't let that stop you, Kar Yong - I still need to know!

    pearlie

    What am I most excited about?

    Image of The Epistle to the Philippians Image of The Epistles to the Thessalonians Image of The First Epistle to the Corinthians Image of Second Epistle To The Corinthians
    Image of The Gospel of Matthew Image of The Gospel According to Mark Image of Studies In Matthew Image of Stories With Intent
    Image of Hearing the Old Testament in the New Testament Image of Contours Of Christology In The New Testament Image of Built upon the Rock Image of Our Father Abraham
    Image of Give God the Glory Image of The Use of the Image of The Text of the Old Testament Image of The Way According to Luke

    I am officially on a 6-months-fast from buying any more books. These books are the result of my latest book binge via STM Book Services through its yearly Eerdmans special order.

    And I must quote BK who just posted that: Martyn Lloyd-Jones provides a great caution against the danger of living "a kind of second hand spiritual life on books ... We may do this for years without realising that we are living on books instead of living on Christ." A timely and important reminder.

    I am currently listening to Carson on his exposition of the book of Jeremiah. The message that came through to me is this: what am I most excited about in life? It must be none other than the Gospel of Christ - his saving grace, his act of atonement, the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb. If anything else were to eclipse this fundamental crux of life - I have committed idolatry.

    pearlie